Our Response to Shankman’s Recent Rant

AngerI have been asked by a number of people, what do you think of Peter Shankman’s recent rant in his blog post entitled ‘I Will Never Hire a “Social Media Expert,” and Neither Should You’

Well you did ask so here goes……….

While I agree, to an extent, with the underlying argument of his post, the very aggressive way in which he presents his thoughts is totally self-defeating. Without doubt, the last few years have seen a proliferation of so-called ‘social media experts’. This is because barriers to entry are very low. Rather than clarifying the knowledge, skills and experience one would expect from an expert in this area, the author chooses to launch a blistering attack on everyone and anyone claiming expertise in social media.

Below, I present his main arguments and my response:

Shankman: I was going to call this article “All “Social Media Experts” need to go die in a fire,” but I figured I should be nicer than that.

Hamill: Regardless of how much I might disagree with a person’s point of view, I would never wish them to ‘die in a fire’ or in any other way for that matter. As a ‘Social Media Expert’ from the ‘No Mean City’ of Glasgow, I was going to start my response to his threat by saying ‘go ahead pal if you are brave enough or daft enough to try’, but I figured I should be nicer than that. If you ever visit our lovely City Mr Shankman, I would be more than happy to meet up to discuss your need to burn people for trying to make a living out of social media. Would advise an anger management class before you do yourself real harm.

Shankman: But my title stands. If you call yourself a “Social Media Expert,” don’t even bother sending me your resume.

Hamill: I am a Social Media Expert (EU accredited) and I have no idea why I would ever want to send you my resume. Surprising as it may seem to you, I have managed to develop a very successful academic and consultancy career without your help. I would be more than happy to send you my CV if you wish, but please be warned, if I was to include all of my publications over the last 30 years or so it would run to 25 plus pages.

Shankman: No business in the world should want a “Social Media Expert” on their team. They shouldn’t want a guru, rock-star, or savant, either. If you have a “Social Media Expert” on your payroll, you’re wasting your money.

Hamill: A very sweeping statement presented with no justification at all. Where is the evidence to prove that employing a social media expert is a waste of money? This might be your own view Mr Shankman but there is growing amount of evidence to show that an effective social media strategy does produce high return on investment. Most, if not all, of my own clients would strongly disagree with your rant here.

Shankman: Being an expert in Social Media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator. You might be the best bread-taker-outer in the world, but you know what? The goal is to make an amazing sandwich, and you can’t do that if all you’ve done in your life is taken the bread out of the fridge.

Hamill: A very stupid comment to make. Anyone legitimately claiming the title of ‘Social Media Expert’ would know that your social media activities always need to be linked back to core business objectives – making an amazing sandwich in your words. We encourage companies to use a simplified Balanced Scorecard approach to ensure that their social media activities (taking the bread out of the fridge) are fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives (making an amazing sandwich).

It’s not rocket science Mr Shankman. Anyone with a strong business background would know that every action a company takes (whether social media or not) should always be fully aligned behind agreed business goals. Please do not assume that all so called ‘social media experts’ know nothing about business. Even a quick scan around our blog at www.energise2-0.com will show where we come from on this – ‘Social Media Planning Pays’.

In terms of my own background, I have over 30 years ‘coalface’ experience in International Business so please do not speak down at me.

Shankman: Social Media is just another facet of marketing and customer service. Say it with me. Repeat it until you know it by heart. Bind it as a sign upon your hands and upon thy gates. Social Media, by itself, will not help you.

Hamill: This is your most dangerous statement of all. Dangerous in the extreme because it communicates totally the wrong advice to companies; let me elaborate……..

Yes I agree with the final part of your comment – that social media, by itself, will not help you. I am not aware of any ‘social media expert’ who argues that it will – that is why a Balanced Scorecard approach is so useful as stated above.

Social media IS NOT just another facet of marketing and it is very misleading and dangerous to argue that it is. Social media is the biggest single revolution to have taken place in the 25 years that I have been teaching and practising International Marketing. It represents a major ‘power shift’ to customers. The evidence is overwhelming that traditional approaches to sales and marketing are declining in effectiveness. New marketing ‘mindsets’ and ways of doing things are required…. See our blog for more details.

Your comment that SM is just another facet of customer service just shows how out of touch you really are. One of my other areas of expertise (yes I have several) is ‘Customer Experience Management’. It is now a widely accepted fact that delivering good customer service is no longer enough. Good service has become a ‘table stake’ that keeps us in the game – a necessary, but on its own, not a sufficient condition for sustained growth and profitability. What really matters is the quality of the customer experience at key ‘moments of truth’ in their relationship with our business. Used effectively, social media can add value at each stage of the customer journey building customer loyalty, retention and growth. Perhaps you could have spent a little bit more time on explaining this to your readers rather than ranting on about experts, fires and vomit.

The role and importance of social media in customer experience management is one of the most exciting aspects of the SM revolution.

Shankman: We’re making the same mistakes that we made during the dotcom era, where everyone thought that just adding the term .com to your corporate logo made you instantly credible. It didn’t. If that’s all you did, you emphasized even more strongly how pathetic your company was. You weren’t “building a new paradigm while shifting alternate ways of focusing customers on the clicks and mortar of an organizational exchange.” No, you were simply a freaking idiot who’d be out of business in six months.

Hamill: As someone who has been very actively involved in all things e-marketing since 1995, I fully remember the dot.com era and I agree with the sentiments you express but please do not accuse me of being a ‘freaking idiot’, unless of course you feel that only idiots have the title of Dr.

Shankman: Ready for the ultimate kicker? We still haven’t learned! We got thirsty again, and are drinking the same damn ten-year-old Kool-Aid without so much as asking for ice. Rather than embracing this new technology and merging it with what we’ve learned already, we’re throwing off our clothes and running naked in the rain, waving our hands in the air, sure that this time it’ll be different, because this time it’s better!!”

Hamill: I have never actually tried throwing off my clothes and running naked in the rain. Not a good idea when you live in Glasgow!

Shankman: “It’s not about building a website anymore! It’s so much cooler! It’s about Facebook, and fans, and followers, and engagement, and influence, and…” Will you please shut up before you make me vomit on your shoes? IT’S ABOUT GENERATING REVENUE THROUGH SOLID MARKETING AND STELLAR CUSTOMER SERVICE, JUST LIKE IT’S BEEN SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME.

Hamill: Hope you didn’t make too much a mess of your shoes – visually a bit too much information to think about. You may care to have a quick look at our ‘6Is’ approach to measuring social media performance and business impact – – this argues that the social media performance measures of Involvement, Interaction. Intimacy and Influence are actually the main drivers of future business Impact and customer Insight. No need to vomit on your shoes Mr Shankman, just understand the link between social media and overall business performance. Again it’s not rocket science.

Shankman: It’s About Transparency. It’s about not lying to your customers, and thinking that a good Twitter apology will suffice when you’re caught. It won’t, and you’ll lose. Customers will run away in droves, because they can. They can go wherever they want now – It doesn’t matter how loyal they were in the past. Lie to them and get caught, and say goodbye. It’s about using the tools to market to an audience that wants to help tell your story, because you’ve been awesome at providing them with the service they deserve. United’s reaction to “United Breaks Guitars” WASN’T a stellar example of a good use of social media. It was the exact opposite – It was knee-jerk crisis management, that would never have had to happen had United been focused on customer service in their marketing to begin with.

Hamill: Agree totally with what you say here but have a real problem accepting how genuine you are in this and your other comments about customer centricity given the overall tone of your article. If any company talked to their audience the way you talk in your article then yes customers would run away in droves and that is exactly what I am going to do now Mr Shankman. Good bye.

You can respond to my article if you like but it is very unlikely that I will reply. I have already wasted enough of my valuable time on this.

A big apology to loyal readers of the Energise 2-0 blog for the tone of this article and the way it has been written. As you know, it’s not our normal style but I do feel a lot better now that it’s off my chest.

Dr Jim Hamill
Social Media Expert – otherwise known as a ‘freaking idiot’.

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4 Responses to Our Response to Shankman’s Recent Rant

  1. I obviously don’t expect a reply, since you made it abundantly clear that you won’t. I just find it kind of telling that you took my article so personally. Makes me wonder how much of yourself you saw in it…

    Anyhow – Best to you! Try and get out this weekend and enjoy the beautiful weather. Take some deep breaths. They’re good for you. 🙂

  2. Oh deary me…….no comment required.

  3. Claire Dunning says:

    Jim, thank you for dissecting Shankman’s article and I completely agree with your response to his comment. What has the world done to him to make him so angry?

    I retweeted his article yesterday saying this is “why we don’t call ourselves social media experts @dunningdesign” . This ties in with our latest blog http://www.creatingsparks.com where we use Malcolm Gladwell’s measure of 10,000 hours experience = good. On the social media front we are far from the 10,000 hours mark, however as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (the criteria of FCIM was 15yrs senior marketing experience when I achieved this status) I do feel that I can claim to be a marketing expert who is embracing a new facet of the marketing mix.

    I agree wholeheartedly on ROI and measurement and use of the balanced scorecard is our recommendation too. But before all that comes strategy and if you only know how to work Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin then you’re on a hiding to nothing. So whilst I agree with the sentiments of Shankman’s article I agree more with Jim regarding breadth and depth of business and marketing knowledge and Shankman’s lack of tact and tarring all with one brush delivery.

    Jim your post is not one that I would attempt to better, well said 🙂

  4. Thanks Claire. I think we would both agree with some of what he was trying to say but the manner in which it was delivered was totally unacceptable to me – and to you by the sound of it. Will check out your blog post just now.

    Thanks for your support.

    Looks as if Mr Shankman has blocked me from his blog. I posted a link to my response this afternoon and it has been deleted. Tried to post again but site didnt allow me to do so. Very sad really that he can post such an aggressive article but then try to censor any criticisms of it.

    Take care

    Jim H

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